R. Kelly speaks out for the first time since his child pornography trial

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Three months after walking out of a Cook County criminal court a free man, R&B music extraordinaire R. Kelly spoke about how he felt held hostage for nearly seven years before a jury acquitted him and what’s next for him.

Three months after walking out of a Cook County criminal court a free man, R&B music extraordinaire R. Kelly spoke about how he felt held hostage for nearly seven years before a jury acquitted him and what’s next for him. Robert Kelly, 41, was acquitted in June of 14 counts of child pornography. He was accused of videotaping multiple sex acts with an alleged underage girl. He and the alleged victim denied participating in the film, and the girl never testified. Kelly, minus the signature cornrows he donned for the last few years, spoke to Black Entertainment Television in a pre-taped interview that aired Wednesday about the "relief" that overcame him once he heard the words "not guilty" and how he wants to put the entire ordeal behind him. The Chicago native said he was nervous “as hell” during the trial, and when the jury walked out to announce his fate, a flurry of thoughts ran through his mind. “I thought about my kids, my life, my career. Everything ran through my mind, even songs,” the Olympia Fields resident said. But it was when he finally heard those two words –– not guilty –– that “relief” sunk in. “To be honest, I felt like I was in jail for seven years. It was hell. I wouldn’t wish it on nobody. I got through it and came out victorious. My music and my family, and of course fans that was continuing to buy my music and come to my shows, they are the ones that really kept me going, kept me alive and kept me surviving through this whole storm,” he said, adding that the ordeal made him “more stronger” and “more humble.” When asked if he likes teenage girls, he paused and replied, “When you say teenage, how old are you talking? 19? I have some 19-year-old friends, but I don’t like anybody illegal, if that’s what you’re talking about, underage.” Kelly said those who think he preys on underage girls don’t know him. And the R. Kelly brand and Robert Kelly the person are completely separate. “R. Kelly, that’s an image, that’s my brand, that’s my job. But there’s another whole side of me, which is Robert, the father, the friend, the funny man sometimes, the momma joke king. That’s me,” the Grammy Award-winning artist said. He said R. Kelly is his job that pays his bills and puts his kids through school. “I wish that people would not connect the whole R. Kelly image, meaning the videos, the champagne, the girls. I think because I’ve been doing it so long, people are getting it in their head that this is all he do all day, this is who he is: sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. That’s just not me,” Kelly said. Kelly said he just wants to finally put the trial behind him and focus on his family and career. “It’s time for me to move on. I can’t keep answering these questions,” he said. His management team is planning a tour for him in Africa, a place Kelly has wanted to visit since his childhood days. He also wants to scratch a philanthropic itch during his first trip there. “I can be over there for a while. I really just want to get into doing some humanity stuff over there. If I’m going to get on a plane and go that far, I want to make it more than just going over there to do a show,” he said. Kelly, who grew up on the South Side, scored a huge hit with his 1997 song, “I Believe I Can Fly.” He sold more than 12 million records since his arrest in June 2002, pumping out an album a year and collaborating with everyone from songstress Celine Dion to rappers Jay-Z and Kid Rock. ______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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